QUEENS, N.Y.- St. John's head coach Steve Lavin announced the signing of nationally-rated top 5 point guard Rysheed Jordan (Philadelphia, Pa./Roberts Vaux H.S.) to a National Letter of Intent (NLI) on Wednesday.
A 6-4, 185-pound explosive scorer and five-star playmaker ranked as high as No. 20 by national recruiting services, Jordan plans to join the Red Storm for summer classes and workouts in preparation for the 2013-14 season.
"The Johnnies are pleased to welcome and embrace Rysheed Jordan as the latest member of our St. John's basketball family. Rysheed is a uniquely gifted, highly-motivated and focused individual who plays the game of basketball with a purposeful approach that in turn elevates his team's ability to win," said Lavin. "His competitive spirit, intelligence, innate basketball instincts and skillful play set him apart from the other prospects in the 2013 Class. Rysheed is an ideal fit for our particular style of play and he will have an opportunity to contribute immediately to our program's pursuit of becoming a consistent winner."
Jordan, a gifted and versatile floor general, joins a core of Red Storm returners built upon the foundation of Lavin's No. 3 nationally-ranked Class of 2011 and his No. 8 class from 2012. After signing 19 student-athletes in his first two full seasons with St. John's, Lavin's addition of Jordan brings the Red Storm's scholarship count to the NCAA men's basketball maximum of 13.
Ranked 22nd nationally in the final ESPN 100, Jordan is now the highest-rated recruit Lavin has signed since coming to St. John's in March of 2010, and Jordan represents the highest-rated rookie prospect headed into the new BIG EAST Conference. St. John's basketball players recruited by Lavin have claimed the last two BIG EAST Rookie of the Year awards - Moe Harkless in 2012 and JaKarr Sampson in 2013. Jordan's signing adds to a Lavin recruiting legacy that includes two No. 1 ranked classes (1998, 2001), the 1997 No. 2 class, the 2011 No. 3 class, the 2012 No. 8 class and a total of eight McDonald's All-Americans.
"I am looking forward to taking the next steps as a basketball player and in continuing my education at St. John's University. Throughout the recruiting process it became clear St. John's is the best fit for me. I developed a strong relationship with Coach Lavin, the staff and players and believe I can contribute to the program immediately. The Johnnies full court uptempo attacking system of play is suited for my game. New York City has great energy and The Garden is a place everyone dreams of playing," said Jordan. "I want to thank Temple and UCLA for showing interest in me. I am a Philly native and love my city, and I can't wait to represent in the Big Apple."
A three-time all-state performer and the Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Athletics Association (PIAA) State Player of the Year in 2012-13 after averaging 24.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, Jordan authored one of the most prolific and galvanizing senior campaigns in Philadelphia's storied high school basketball history. Nicknamed "The Prince of North Philly" by national and local media outlets, Jordan built a substantial following in the City of Brotherly Love while leading Roberts Vaux High School to a 24-8 record and its first PIAA Class A State championship. Named the City Player of the Year by the Philadelphia Daily News and the Philadelphia Inquirer, he was also the recipient of the Phoenix award, presented to top high school male athlete in the Philadelphia Public League (PPL).
A first team PPL all-conference team member as a sophomore, junior and senior, he led Vaux high to the 2013 PPL finals, where he scored 46 points with six rebounds, six steals and six assists in a 67-66 loss to Imhotep. The performance, which has already been etched into local lore in Philadelphia, was his third 40-plus point effort of the season.
Jordan led Vaux to the PIAA Class A state quarterfinals as a sophomore in 2010-11 and as a junior in 2011-12. He was coached at Vaux by Jamie Ross, and played summer basketball for the vaunted Philly Pride, coached by Kamal Yard.
"You can tell Rysheed is one of the great ones because of his ability to turn adversity into motivation and productivity in all aspects of his life. If he was snubbed for an all-star game or when he competes against elite teams or opposing players, he rises to the occasion every time, elevating his performance and the play of those around him," said Yard. "He is an unbelievable teammate, a born leader and proven winner. The Johnnies are getting a tough-minded player and an individual the St. John's and greater New York City community can rally around."
Jordan is currently headed to Louisville, Ky., to take part in the 2013 Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic, which takes place Friday, April 19th at Freedom Hall at the Kentucky Expo Center.
The 2012-13 Red Storm advanced to the Second Round of the National Invitation Tournament and finished its campaign at 17-16 (8-10 BIG EAST). St. John's 83rd winning season in history and second of The Lavin Era was its fifth since 1999-2000. The Red Storm's 2011 NCAA berth and 2013 NIT appearance under Lavin mark the first time since 2002 and 2003 that St. John's reached the postseason twice in a three-year span under one coach. The Red Storm's 63-61 March 19 NIT Opening Round win over Saint Joseph's was the first non-vacated postseason victory since the 2001 NCAA Tournament.
St. John's projects to return 91.6 percent of its scoring and 88.3 percent of its rebounding in 2013-14, including 2013 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention selection, unanimous All-Rookie team member, seven-time BIG EAST Rookie of the Week, 2013 MBWA Rookie of the Year and All-Met second team member Sampson, who led all BIG EAST freshmen in scoring (14.9 ppg, T-11th overall) and rebounding (6.6 rpg, 11th overall). A game-changing shotblocker and BIG EAST All-Rookie selection, Chris Obekpa led the nation in rejections with a 4.03 blocks per game average and established a new single-season St. John's and BIG EAST freshman mark with 133 rejections on the year. Guard Phil Greene IV scored at a 10.1 ppg clip and displayed his ability as a dynamic playmaker despite a hip injury. Leading scorer D'Angelo Harrison (17.8 ppg, third among all BIG EAST players) is currently working with the St. John's coaching staff toward a reinstatement to the team after a March 1 suspension.